What is the legal age to own a car?
In most states, you don't need to reach a certain age to buy a car. However, if you're under 18, you may run into the following roadblocks that make purchasing one difficult and prevent you from driving it legally.
A contract that a minor has signed may be void or voidable, depending on the state. So unless you have saved enough to buy a vehicle with cash, you'll need an adult to co-sign your car loan if you're under 18. Even if you don't need to finance your purchase, you may have trouble getting your car on the road if you're not yet 18.
Title & Registration
States require vehicle owners to register their vehicles before driving them. In most states, you need to be at least 18 to register a car.
You must be at least 18 to list your name as the vehicle's owner on the title in most states. If you're under 18, you typically must put the car's title in an adult's name and have the adult list you as a driver on the vehicle. When you reach your state's maturity age — usually 18 — you can legally transfer the car title to your name.
You must have auto insurance to drive legally in almost every state in the country. Since an insurance policy is a legally binding contract, you may need to be a certain minimum age to purchase auto insurance, depending on the state and insurance company. Your parents or guardians can add you to their policy until you reach the minimum age requirement, so you can drive legally. Learn more about staying on your parents car insurance and car insurance for teens.
At what age can you buy a car from a dealership?
If you're under 18, you'll probably need to take an adult with you to purchase a car from a dealership. Buying a vehicle involves a lot of paperwork, including a sales contract, which you typically need to be at least 18 to sign. If you need financing, an adult may have to co-sign the loan for you. Dealers also handle your vehicle registration, and you need to be at least 18 to register a vehicle in most states.
Can a 17-year-old buy a car from a private seller?
If you're not legally an adult in your state, you'll have the same challenges buying a car from a private seller as you will buying one from a dealer. Your state's laws still apply, meaning you need to be at least 18 years old to list the title in your name and register your vehicle in most states. If you're buying a car from a private seller, you need an adult to register your vehicle and put their name on the title until you reach the age of majority.